It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Or is it? Not to Bah Humbug in your peppermint mocha but the holidays can be really hard. While music and parties and family can be fun, they can just as often be stressful. The holiday season can trigger all kinds of feelings besides joy- loss, grief, sadness, nostalgia, and longing. You could counter all this stress and emotional weariness with meditation, but it may be hard to get Zen if you’re sleeping on a couch in a house full of relatives. Just like it may be a challenge to practice gratitude as you are struggling to figure out how to afford all the gifts you need to buy. Of course, you could use your yoga practice to destress but good luck finding the time and space to “become one with your body” as you are sitting in an airport or driving down the interstate.
So what can you do? How can you destress when you’re not sleeping in your own bed or fighting holiday traffic? What can you do when your well-meaning relatives ask you about your relationship status or when you’re going to have a baby? The one thing that you can do any time, any place… the one thing you MUST do, is BREATHE.
As for my credentials, I may know a thing or two about stress. Not because I had a stroke or because I’ve dealt with infertility or any of the other myriad of health issues I’ve experienced. I know about stress because when I’m not writing, I teach public speaking to college students. I can see the stress on their lovely, little, unlined faces every day. Particularly on speech days.
Yes, obviously so you don’t die. But what are the specific benefits of paying attention to the breath? This is the place where I usually bombard you with research like:
- slow breathing lowers your blood pressure
- deep breathing slows heart rate
- breath control decreases stress response
- yogic breathing helps fight major depression
- breathing decisively reduces pain
Don’t just take my word for it, even The New York Times endorses breathing.
How to Breathe
Of course, you inhale and you exhale but there’s a little more to it when you practice conscious breathing.
Read the rest of the article, including specific breathing techniques, here.